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Building new, better cities

Earlier today my friend Saadat sent me the following tweet:


It’s a link to a new research project by Y Combinator – the famed Silicon Valley seed accelerator. They want to explore the possibility of building new and better cities.

I don’t have the time for something like this, but if any of you are city experts (I know a lot of you are) and you’re based in or willing to be based in San Francisco (I think they are flexible on this), you should absolutely consider applying to be their full time “Cities Researcher.” The deadline is July 30, 2016.

Here’s a taste of what they are thinking about…

There are many high-level questions we want to think through, for example:

– What should a city optimize for?

– How should we measure the effectiveness of a city (what are its KPIs)?

– What values should (or should not) be embedded in a city’s culture?

– How can cities help more of their residents be happy and reach their potential?

– How can we encourage a diverse range of people to live and work in the city?

– How should citizens guide and participate in government?

– How can we make sure a city is constantly evolving and always open to change?

And there are tactical questions we want to dig into, for example:

– How can we make and keep housing affordable? This is critical to us; the cost of housing affects everything else in a city.

– How can we lay out the public and private spaces (and roads) to make a great place to live?

– Can we figure out better zoning laws?

– What is the right role for vehicles in a city?

– Should we have human-driven cars at all?

– How can we have affordable high-speed transit to and from other cities?

– How can we make rules and regulations that are comprehensive while also being easily understandable?

– Can we fit all rules for the city in 100 pages of text?

– What effects will the new city have on the surrounding community?

The convergence of city building and tech is something that I’m deeply interested in. I also think it’s inevitable. And I think that Toronto – thanks to our robust real estate industry – is in an ideal position to be a leader in this space. So I would love to see someone from here take on this job.

But even if you’re not from Toronto, you should still apply because it’s an exciting initiative 🙂

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